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GST Rate Cut Not in My Hands, Says Sitharaman; Refuses to Respond to Manmohan Singh's Criticism

The Union minister’s statement comes a day after the Central Statistical Office said that India's quarterly GDP has come down to 5 per cent as compared to 5.8 per cent in the last quarter of the financial year.

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Updated:September 1, 2019, 3:15 PM IST
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GST Rate Cut Not in My Hands, Says Sitharaman; Refuses to Respond to Manmohan Singh's Criticism
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
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New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said GST rate cut was not in her hands and it was the GST Council that would take a decision on the same.

The Union minister’s statement comes a day after the Central Statistical Office said that India's quarterly GDP has come down to 5 per cent as compared to 5.8 per cent in the last quarter of the financial year. The figure stood at 7.8 per cent in the same quarter of the previous financial year. Manufacturing sector and private consumption are being blamed for the slump.

When quizzed about the decision to merge banks, over which several employees have expressed reservations, Sitharaman said there was no closure of banks. “No banks are being asked to do anything different from what they were doing. In fact, we are giving them more capital to do what they were doing,” she said.

The finance minister had on Friday announced a series of mergers involving 10 state-owned banks as the government moves to strengthen a sector struggling under a mountain of debt and ensure stronger balance sheets to boost lending and revive economic growth.

The mergers, which cut to 12 the total number of state-owned banks, from 27 in 2017, are the first since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government won re-election in May.

Cutting down FY20 GDP growth to 6.7 per cent (six-year low) from its earlier forecast of 7.3 per cent, India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) on August 28 said that the current fiscal would be the third consecutive year of subdued growth. It attributed the lacklustre performance primarily to a slowdown in consumption demand, delayed monsoon, decline in manufacturing and rising global trade tensions affecting exports.

On Sunday, former prime minister Manmohan Singh slammed the government for the slowdown, saying “all-round mismanagement” had led to the current state of the economy.

In a video statement issued on Sunday, Singh said, “India has the potential to grow at a much faster rate but all-round mismanagement by the Narendra Modi government has resulted in this slow down. It is particularly distressing that the manufacturing sector’s growth is tottering at 0.6 per cent. This makes it very clear that our economy has not yet recovered from the manmade blunders of demonetisation and a hastily implemented GST.”

Sitharaman, when asked for her comment on Singh's statement, refused to respond.

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